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Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Rotorcraft Report

Vendors to Line Up for Slice of USMC Heavy-Lift Pie

Sikorsky is focused on nailing down by June its strategy for choosing key subcontractors to build a new U.S. Marine Corps heavy-lift helicopter, having secured contracts for that potential $18.8-billion aircraft development and production program.

Approved by the Pentagon Dec. 22, 2005, development of the Heavy Lift Replacement successor to the CH-53E aims to produce an aircraft with roughly half the maintenance costs of the Super Stallion and more than twice the payload (27,000 lb. vs. 12,100 at a mission radius of about 200 nm.) under Navy "hot and high" conditions--91.5F at 3,000 ft. Dubbed the CH-53K, the all-new helicopter is intended to have the same footprint as the -53E on board ships but offer greater visibility from the cockpit and a wider cabin capable of carrying U.S. Air Force-standard loads.

The CH-53K is to have fly-by-wire flight controls, a glass cockpit, fifth-generation main rotor blades, a low-maintenance elastomeric rotorhead, a new main gearbox and new engines. It also is to offer improved survivability and ballistic protection for occupants and key systems, something that "came into play in the last six months," said USMC Col. Paul Croisetiere, the Naval Air Systems Command's Heavy Lift Replacement program manager. As part of that effort, a CH-53E is undergoing live-fire testing at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif.

The program calls for initial operating capability--a detachment of four CH-53Ks, with combat-ready crews, ready to deploy--by 2015, which is actually four years too late for the Marines. Their current 150 -53Es face a 6,120-flight-hour, fatigue-life limit on the transition bulkhead section (at the tailboom's fold point), and the service projects it will lose about a dozen aircraft a year starting in 2011. So NavAir and Sikorsky are working to have a plan within a year for modifications to keep those aircraft flying--a fix that should bring Sikorsky another $4.2 billion of work.

The sole-source CH-53K contracts to Sikorsky--NavAir officials said competitive bidding would have produced a more costly aircraft at a later date--include an $8.8-million initial system development and demonstration contract, an unspecified follow-on to that due within weeks and a $2.9-billion system development and demonstration contract expected in March. The plan is to acquire 156 CH-53Ks plus five test aircraft, with an average flyaway unit cost of $56.6 million. Total program costs are estimated at $18.8 billion.

For that money, Sikorsky will select suppliers of the CH-53K's subsystems, a task on which it is focused now.

"Over the next six months we'll be nailing down the overall component strategy and getting RFPs out in the field," said David Haines, Sikorsky's Heavy Lift Replacement program manager. One for the avionics--which will include interoperability on the battlefield--is out, and General Electric, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce already are developing bids based on a draft engine RFP. Others to come will cover provision of cargo handling and other mission systems, the fuselage (Sikorsky now farms out H-60 fuselage production to Kaman and Vought), electric power, flight controls, the fuel system, hydraulics, landing gear, the small gearboxes and--as a package--the APU, environmental control and starter systems.

MILITARY

Eurocopter Selected For Korean Program

Eurocopter is awaiting approval by South Korea's national legislature of a program that could bring it nearly $1 billion in revenue and a major foothold in another Asian market.

The consortium won out over Bell Helicopter and AgustaWestland in mid-December 2005 as the key foreign partner for the 5.4 trillion won ($5.5 billion) Korean Helicopter Program to build 245 aircraft to replace the South Korean military's aging fleet of about 600 Bell UH-1Hs and AH-1J Cobras. The new, 8-metric-ton (17,600-lb.) aircraft is to be partially developed and largely produced in South Korea. The program's goal is to develop that nation's ability to build its own helicopters.

Eurocopter will provide prime contractor Korean Aerospace Industries with technical assistance and supply the aircraft's transmission and autopilot. Eurocopter said it has a 30-percent stake in the development phase and a 20-percent in the production phase. Eurocopter and KAI plan to set up a 50/50 subsidiary to market exports. The program calls for a four-year development effort starting this year, with full production to start in 2011.

The win comes on the heels of Eurocopter's pact with China's AVIC 2 aerospace group to develop the 6-8-metric-ton EC175 ("Eurocopter Plugs Gap in Product Line," January 2006, page 9).

CIVIL

Turbomeca, AVIC 2 Team on Helo Engines

Turbomeca and China Aviation Industry Corp. 2 (AVIC 2) agreed in early December to collaborate on production of 200 Arriel 2 turboshaft engines for use on the H425 helicopter designed and produced by AVIC 2's Harbin Aviation Industry.

A large part of the engine components and modules are to be produced under license by China National South Aero Engine Corp. (SAEC). Another AVIC 2 unit, SAEC designs, manufactures and supports small and medium-power helicopter turbine engines for the Chinese market.

Turbomeca's parent, the SAFRAN Group, said the deal marks a major advance in relations between Turbomeca and AVIC 2. The two started working together in the 1980s, with a license for SAEC to produce the Arriel 1 turboshaft.

The pact also may help Turbomeca in the coming competition for an engine to power the 6-8-metric-ton EC175 twin-engine helicopter. AVIC 2 and Eurocopter agreed late last year to jointly develop that aircraft ("Eurocopter Plugs Gap in Product Line," January 2006, page 9).

CIVIL

Enstroms Gain Brazilian, South Korean Certification

The civil aviation authorities of Brazil and South Korea have completed certification of the full range of Enstrom helicopters. The Brazilian authorities added the 480B to the existing type certificates of Enstrom helicopters late last year, while South Korea's Civil Aviation Safety Authority awarded Enstrom type certificates for the 280FX, F28F and the 480B in early January.

Enstrom President and CEO Jerry Mullins said the company has been successful in opening new territories, "which drives our need to obtain the proper certification." Enstrom recently delivered a 280FX and 480B to Hanseo University in South Korea and a 480B to Bringer Corp. of Brazil. Enstrom's director of engineering, William Taylor, said the company's aircraft are now certified in more than 30 countries, "and with the increase in new countries being interested in our aircraft, I would assume our certification efforts will increase again in 2006."

CIVIL

Canadian Helicopters Picks Max-Viz Enhanced Vision System

Canadian Helicopters, Ltd. has selected the Max-Viz EVS-1000 Enhanced Vision System for its helicopter operations. The Montreal-based company operates numerous helicopter types throughout Canada on missions that include emergency medical service, forestry, utility, mining, construction, police and filming work.

The selection followed a three-month evaluation of the EVS-1000 by several Canadian Helicopters crews that included day, night and reduced-visibility operations, according to Sylvain Seguin, Canadian's vice president of safety. The evaluation proves that installation of the EVS-1000 on Canadian Helicopters' fleet "will greatly enhance the safety and reliability of our flight operations and the quality of our services to our customers." Seguin said he was most impressed with the increased situational awareness that the system provided to crews "in various modes of flight and mission profiles, reducing the possible human-performance errors."

The operator has a fleet of Bell 206s and 212s, Eurocopter AS350s and AS355F1s and Sikorsky S-61Ns and S-76As.

CIVIL

China Eyes 60-Helo Police Fleet As New Z11 Flies

China plans to develop a police helicopter fleet of 60 aircraft by 2010, according to press reports from that nation. China currently has fewer than 20 police helicopters, according to the Xinhua news service. People's Daily Online cites officials of the air force, ministry of public security and other departments as settling on a five-year plan to field a domestically developed and built fleet of helicopters for police work. The plan reportedly covers aircraft acquisition, heliport construction, airspace use and the funding, personnel and management to support fleet operations.

The news follows reports of the first flight of the latest version of the Chinese-designed Z11, the Z11J. Manufactured by Changhe Aircraft Industries Group Ltd., in the Jiangxi provincial city of Jingdezhen, the aircraft--similar in appearance to Eurocopter's AS350--reportedly is targeted at public-security, rescue and disaster-relief work and fitted with a searchlight and electric hoist. According to Xinhua, the aircraft can carry six people, has a maximum takeoff weight of 2,200 kg. (4,840 lb.) and a cruise speed of about 120 kt.

MILITARY

U.S. Civil Helo Sales Hit Record Levels in 2005

Both sales and exports of U.S. civil helicopters surged last year to record levels, according to the U.S. Aerospace Industries Assn. In its aerospace industry annual review, the trade group reported that civil helicopter sales jumped from $515 million to a record $750 million. The U.S. industry shipped 120 more civil helicopter last year than it did in 2004.

Civil helicopter exports also reached record levels, rising 57 percent to $490 million. "Used civil aircraft exports rose 31 percent from already high levels to $2.8 billion," the group said, "helping exports and the trade balance, but not resulting in new production."

A reflection of the growth in foreign civil aircraft production, exports of all engine parts and aircraft parts--fixed- and rotary-wing--increased $2.3 billion above 2004's $19.2 billion, the group reported. Similarly, exports of complete civil aircraft engines totaled $6.8 billion, some $1.5 billion above 2004's level.

The group expects aerospace industry sales to grow another $14 billion to $184 billion this year, spurred in part by U.S. military purchases.

MILITARY

Mi-28N Makes First Flight; Palestine To Get Mi-17s

Rostov Helicopter Plant (Rostvertol) has reported the maiden flight of the Mi-28N Night Hunter in preparation for delivery of the first aircraft to the Russian defense ministry this spring, according to the Russian news service Ria Novosti. The government signed a contract with Rostvertol last spring for the three aircraft, which will be delivered following the completion of testing. According to company officials, the Mi-28N is a new-generation attack helicopter featuring high survivability and a wide range of advanced armaments. It is primarily designed to locate and destroy enemy armored vehicles, personnel, small surface ships, low-speed air targets and fortifications and to lay mine fields day or night in adverse weather conditions. High reliability and powerful weaponry ensure the helicopter's competitiveness on global aircraft markets, the Rosvertol press service said.

The Russian news agency also reported a plan by the Russian government to provide two Mi-17 transport helicopters to the Palestinians as part of a military package that also includes 50 armored personnel carriers. The agency's source said that while all the procurement agreements are in place, including funding, specific delivery dates have not be established.

MILITARY

Royal Jordanian Air Force Places Order More EC635s

The Royal Jordanian Air Force has placed a firm order for four more EC635 light twin-engined helicopters for surveillance, special operations, emergency medical, VIP and other missions.

This new order will add to the air force's fleet of EC635s. Eurocopter completed deliveries of the initial fleet of EC635s in mid-2004. Under the latest order, two EC635s are to be delivered at the end of the year and the other two in early 2007. According to Eurocopter, the EC635's reliability and high availability enabled the air force to increase its number of flight hours by 75 percent

The air force also operates Eurocopter Super Pumas and AS350s.

Jordan's air force flies the EC635s under extreme climatic conditions and around the clock, including night-vision goggle missions. Missions include surveillance flights in border areas and special operations for anti-terrorist assignments, as well as police and EMS missions and VIP flights inside Jordan.

MILITARY

Venezuela Beefs Up Military Helo Fleets

The Venezuelan military has indicated a requirement for roughly 40 transport and gunship helicopters as part of a $30.7-billion arms buy, according to Forecast International.

The revitalization of Venezuela's military is being stoked by strong prices for the country's oil exports, the Newtown, Conn.forecasting company said. However, Forecast International's Latin American analyst, Tom Baranauskas, said that "the viability of the revitalization program is very much dependent on oil prices remaining strong, with ambitious government plans to increase social spending also likely to be vying for the windfall oil income."

The military has already placed two orders for helicopters, the first being a $120-million contract signed in March 2005 for 10, with the first three expected to be delivered early this year. A second order for five aircraft followed. The helicopters will all come from Russia and be a mix of Mi-17V5s, Mi-26s and Mi-35Ms.

CIVIL

Kamov: "2005 a Significant Year"

Kamov sums up last year as one of significant events: a strategic partnership, the first Ka-32 operators conference and certification of that aircraft in Mexico and South Korea.

The company Kamov-Holding reached agreement with Irkut Corp. in March 2005 on a strategic partnership to develop and execute joint projects and programs for the Ka-32 and the Be-200 amphibian firefighting aircraft. The alliance's main goal is to boost the efficiency of those aircraft. Separately, Kamov launched an effort to develop service centers in Russia and abroad.

November brough the first international conference of Ka-32 operators, held jointly in Moscow by Kamov and Kamov-Holding. About 80 guests from 28 foreign and Russian companies participated. They included officials of Helisureste of Spain, Heliswiss of Switzerland, VIH of Canada and the Russian companies Vladivostok-Avia and Avialift.

Kamov attributes the Ka-32's certification in Mexico and South Korea to "particular interest displayed by major national companies" in Latin America and Asia. The multipurpose Ka-32 already was certified in Russia, Switzerland and Taiwan.

CIVIL

Spanish Operator Taps Ka-32s For Firefighting Missions

Helisureste is acquiring two firefighting Ka-32 helicopters from Russia's Kamov company under a contract signed in late November 2005. With the additional order, Kamov said, it will deliver four Ka-32s to Helisureste this year.

The Alicante, Spain-based company has been operating Ka-32s since 1995. Kamov delivered four Ka-32s in 2004 and last year to Helisureste, which used the aircraft extensively in firefighting operations last year.

Helisureste's technical director has said the 2005 firefighting season proved the Ka-32 to be the best in the world in terms of its performance.

The Ka-32 is a multi-purpose helicopter now certified in Russia, Canada, Switzerland, Taiwan, South Korea and Mexico. The helicopter is used for firefighting, search-and-rescue operations, construction, assembly, transportation operations in the mountains and rough terrain at low and high temperatures and can perform day or night, despite low visibility.

CIVIL

Heli-Mart Acquires Phoenix PD Helos, Spares

Heli-Mart, Inc. has purchased nine MD 520Ns and one 300C from the Phoenix (Ariz.) Police Dept., providing itself with some $1.5 million worth of spare parts and engines.

"We expect news of our expanded inventory will be very well received by MD-500 and MD-520N operators around the world," said Don Nichols, president of Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Heli-Mart. "They rely on us to get them the parts they need, when they need them, and this acquisition further enhances our position as the `go-to guys' for helicopter spares."

Nichols extended an invitation to airborne law enforcement agencies and other MD Helicopters operators who may be interested in the former Phoenix Police aircraft, or who would like to discuss their parts requirements, to call or schedule a meeting with company representatives at the upcoming Heli-Expo convention (Exhibit 1431) in Dallas this month.

Heli-Mart claims to have the largest inventory of MD Helicopters spare parts (aside from the manufacturer). Heli-Mart also stocks a range of parts for other aircraft, including Agusta, Bell, and Eurocopter.

CIVIL

Israeli R&D Group Demonstrates Helicopter Airbag

Israel's defense research and development agency, working under a U.S. contract, has demonstrated an airbag system designed to shield both a helicopter and its occupants from impact with the ground during a crash or hard landing.

Haifa, Israel-based RAFAEL Armament Development Authority Ltd. tested the Rotorcraft External Airbag Protection System under phase 2 of a concept and technology demonstration contract from the U.S. Navy. The tests were conducted in late 2005 near Phoenix using Bell 206s.

The system uses airbags attached under the fuselage of the helicopter. A proximity sensor measures the physical parameters of ground approach and deploys the airbags prior to an imminent crash. The goal is to limit passenger injuries and airframe damage.

RAFAEL performed two drops at a maximum gross weight of 3,300 lb. and impact velocities of 27 and 34 fps. (1,600 and 2,000 fpm.). The rotorcraft were equipped with four anthropomorphic test dummies, including two 50-percent (medium size) males, one 95-percent (large size) male and one 5-percent (small size) female. The dummies were intact after each drop and the airframe experienced limited damage, RAFAEL said.

MILITARY

Australia to Deploy Chinooks to Afghanistan

The Australian Defence Force plans to deploy a detachment of up to two Chinooks and about 110 personnel to Afghanistan as part of Australia's continuing commitment to the fight against terrorism.

The helicopters' capability will provide additional medevac and air mobility support to Australia's Special Forces Task Group, which is being expanded from 190 to 500 troops. The Chinook team will form part of the Combined Forces Command in Afghanistan.

The helicopters are undergoing a $25-million upgrade to make improvements whose need was identified during Australia's previous Chinook deployment to Iraq. The upgrade will provide the aircraft with enhanced electronic warfare self-protection equipment, additional crew and passenger protection and advanced communications, according to Defense Minister Robert Hill. They are expected to be fully operational by late March and will remain in Afghanistan for the balance of the special forces' deployment, which is to conclude in September.--Barney O'Shea

MILITARY

USMC, Contractor Crews Start VH-71 Training

U.S. Marine Corps crews, Naval Air Systems Command officials and contractors have started training for the EH101-based VH-71 presidential helicopter with the delivery to NAS Patuxent River, Md. of Test Vehicle One (TV1) under that $6.1-billion, 26-aircraft program.

An EH101 that the Lockheed Martin-led Team US101 contractor group leased from the Italian Navy, TV1 will serve as a practice test bed before the three actual test vehicles arrive in early 2007, according to Douglas Isleib, NavAir's manager of the program. TV1 will then be returned to the Italian Navy.

Given the challenging schedule under which they are working (the VH-71A is to achieve initial operating capability in 2009), program officials opted to lease the initial test article to get a head start on flight and maintainer training. With the aircraft in place, program officials also can start figuring out where to place system antennas and communication systems. Flight testing began in December 2004, when the GE CT7 engine was integrated on a contractor EH101.

VH-71A flight testing began in late 2004 when the GE CT7 was integrated on a contractor aircraft. TV1 arrived at Lockheed Martin's Owego, N.Y. facility in June for more involved flight testing. On Team US1101, Lockheed Martin handles systems integration in Owego. AgustaWestland is in charge of aircraft design. Bell is doing aircraft production and GE is providing the 2,500-3,000-shp. engines.

MILITARY

Australian Defense Group: "Retire the Sea Kings"

A public defense watchdog group is calling for Australia to retire its aging fleet of six Sea King helicopters.

The Australia Defence Assn. said in the latest edition of its quarterly journal, Defender, that the Sikorsky aircraft should be retired rapidly and replaced with more modern equipment. The current tempo of Australian military combat and disaster-relief operations, combined with the small size of the Sea King fleet, argue for a quick replacement, the group said. One option, it said, might be a marinized version of the army's MRH90.

The call comes as the Defense Dept. is investigating the Apr. 2, 2005 crash of a Royal Australian Navy Sea King on Nias Island, Indonesia, that killed nine and seriously injured two.

The Australia Defence Assn. describes itself as an "independent, non-partisan and community-based public interest guardian organization and `think-tank' on defense" and national security.

MILITARY

Japan To Start AH-64D Apache Longbow Production

Boeing has delivered the first AH-64D Apache Longbow to Fuji Heavy Industries under a licensing agreement that calls for Fuji to produce Apaches for the Japanese Ground Defense Force. The first aircraft, designated the AH-64DJP Apache Longbow, was delivered in December 2005. This was the first production Apache to be delivered with air-to-air Stinger missile launcher capabilities. Two additional AH-64DJP Apaches are to be delivered in March.

Boeing's manager of the Japanese Apache program, Patricia Carson, said that Boeing and Fuji had been working closely for the past year to conclude qualification testing of the unique configuration for Japan. This includes the incorporation of the Stinger launcher. "The Apache will be one of the first weapons platforms with 21st-century joint and interoperable capabilities deployed with the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force," she said.

CIVIL

AgustaWestland Names Malaysia's Deftech As An Authorized Service Center

AgustaWestland named Deftech, a subsidiary of Malaysia's DRB-Hicom Defense Technologies Sdn Bhd, as its authorized service center in the Southeast Asia region.

The agreement was signed Dec. 7, 2005 at the Lima 2005 Airshow in Langkawi, Malaysia. Deftech will provide maintenance and repair services as well as maintain a spare parts inventory for a range of AgustaWestland helicopters, including the AB139, A109 Power and A109 LOH.

A large fleet of AgustaWestland helicopters are in service in the Far East region and the company expects more than 20 will be in service in Malaysia by the end of next year, including the A109 LOH for the Malaysia military. AgustaWestland is intent on expanding its regional customer support services and providing improved levels of service to its customers.

CIVIL

CHC to Fly AB139s, S-92s in U.K. SAR Work

CHC Helicopter Corp. will operate Bell/Agusta AB139s and Sikorsky S-92s in search-and-rescue roles under a new contract from the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

That agency awarded CHC a five-year interim contract Dec. 13, 2005 to provide coast guard SAR helicopter services starting in July 2007. CHC previously had been named preferred bidder on the contract. Its win ousts Bristow Helicopters from the role it held for more than 20 years ("After 20-Plus Years, Is Bristow Out of U.K. SAR?," December 2005, page 12).

CHC plans to operate two S-92s from the base at Stornoway, two S-92s from Sumburgh, two AB139s from Lee-on-Solent and one AB139 from Portland. The Portland base will operate during the day, the others around the clock.

"These new aircraft will be able to fly more quickly, and will be able to fly farther to people in distress at sea than those currently in use," John Astbury, the agency's chief of Coastguard and director of Maritime Operations, said.

Upon receipt of the contract, CHC ordered for four more S-92s from Sikorsky. The contract marks the first time the S-92 will be used in a dedicated SAR role. CHC's S-92s will have duals hoists, autopilot, coupled-hover capability, and the new rotor-ice protection system.

CIVIL

CHC Takes Stake In Brazilian Firm

CHC Helicopter Corp. has exercised its option to acquire a significant equity position in Brazilian Helicopter Services. The acquisition, subject to several terms and conditions, is expected to close by March 12.

Sao Paulo-based Brazilian Helicopter Services calls itself one of the largest air taxi operators in Brazil. It offers executive transport, aeromedical and fleet management services in addition to its offshore operations. Its customers include Petrobras, Transpetro and major hospitals and corporations in Brazil. The company employs a team of more than 200 professionals and operating a fleet of eight aircraft--HB350Bs, Super Pumas and S-76s.

CIVIL

RBI Hawker Opens Middle East Blade Repair Facility

A joint venture of Hawker Pacific Airservices Ltd., Dubai and a Bell Helicopter affiliate has opened a rotor-blade repair and overhaul facility.

RBI Hawker Limited opened shop Nov. 19, 2005 in the Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai, a member of the United Arab Emirates. Intended as a state-of-the-art facility, RBI Hawker will service commercial and military helicopter operators in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The facility has won Bell's approval to repair and overhaul its helicopters' rotor blades.

RBI Hawker was acquired last year by Aeronautical Rotor Blades and Hawker Pacific. Aeronautical Rotor Blades is affiliated with Rotor Blades, Inc., a unit of Bell parent Textron. Hawker Pacific is controlled by Saab AB and specializes, through its Australian subsidiary, in aircraft sales and maintenance, primarily in Australia, New Zealand and Philippines. The companies acquired RBI Hawker for the purposes of establishing and operating the rotor blade repair facility in Dubai.

PROGRAM UPDATES

The Polish government has received bids from AgustaWestland, Eurocopter and Sikorsky for helicopters to replace its Soviet-era Mi-8 medium-lift helicopters. Poland plans to buy six helicopters--two a year for the next three years. A decision is expected this month on the winning bid. Competing helicopters are the EH101, EC225 and S-92. The helicopters will be used to transport senior government officials, according to Deputy Defence Minister Stanislaw Koziej. Total cost of the order will be around 130 million euros, or roughly $158 million.

MILITARY

CH-47: Boeing completed flight testing of four Lot 3 MH-47Gs scheduled for delivery to the U.S. Army this month and next.

CSAR-X: All the competitors--the Sikorsky HH-92, Team US101 US101 and Boeing HH-47--have completed flight evaluations and are expecting a contract award in May.

LUH: Competitors in the U.S. Army's Light Utility Helicopter competition have been invited to the flight evaluation phase of the program at Fort Rucker, Ala., which was to begin early this month and run 5-6 weeks.

MH-60R: The first four MH-60R aircraft were transferred to the U.S. Navy's HSM-41 squadron in December 2005, providing the initial operational capability to the fleet. A Navy program decision meeting for a Milestone 3/full-rate production decision was scheduled for Jan. 23.

NH-90: The Italian Army will receive its first NH-90 tactical transport helicopters (TTH) towards mid-year, with first deliveries of the NH-90 going to the Command Training Centre in Viterbo. The NH-90 will replace part of the army aviation's AB205, 212 and 412 fleets.

SH-2G(A): The Royal Australian Navy, with Kaman Aerospace, has completed weapons separation testing at NAS Pax River., making the Super Seasprite the only helicopter certified to carry two Penguin Missiles into combat.

V-22: The first production CV-22 was delivered to the U.S. Air Force in January. Funding is now in place for nine U.S. Marine Corps MV-22s and two CV-22s in Fiscal 2006.

CIVIL

BA609: Bell is re-baselining the program as a result of the late 2005 realignment agreement with AgustaWestland. Aircraft No. 1 is continuing expansion of the torsional and aeroelastic stability envelope and has reached speeds of 279 kcas and 14,500 ft. Bell said it exceeded planned flight test points for 2005. Total flight hours as of mid-January were 58.7 with a total run time of 158.2 hr. Aircraft No. 2 is scheduled for first flight during the third quarter.

S-76C++: The FAA certified the aircraft Dec. 23, 2005. Sikorsky claims orders for more than 60, with the first two delivered to PHI.

S-76D: Sikorsky expects to complete noise and wind tunnel testing by April or May.

LUH CONTENDERS

MD Extends Explorer Boom, Upgrades Cockpit

MD Helicopters is modifying its MD-902 to build on what sees as considerable advantages over the Bell 412, Bell/Agusta AB139 and Eurocopter EC145 in the U.S. Army's competition to provide 322 Light Utility Helicopters.

Chief Technology Officer Andy Logan said MD has a type-design modification to extend the NOTAR tail boom 20 in. to gain greater directional control for certification at the higher MTOW needed to meet Army requirements--up to 6,500 lb. Logan is an original NOTAR patent holder who returned to MD after Patriarch Partners took over the company last year.

The other major mods--the Chelton 3D synthetic-vision EFIS and a 600-lb. hoist--will be installed under one STC, Logan said.

A key technical advantage is the Explorer's load box, he argued. "It's a large, rectangular, flat volume that lends itself to rapid configuration changes," such as from medevac to troop transport.

MD is trumpeting a Conklin & de Decker analysis that puts the 902's direct operating costs a third or more below its LUH competitors and key performance parameters--rate of climb, hover in ground effect and out of it--at better than all or most of them. The analysis puts the Explorer's range 20-30 percent or more below competitors, however.

PEOPLE

Two U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search and rescue crews have won the MacKay Trophy for rescuing--in almost zero visibility and under ground fire--five Army CH-47 crewmembers who crashed in a sandstorm near Kharbut, Iraq on Apr. 16, 2004. The U.S. National Aeronautic Assn. awards the trophy yearly for the most meritorious Air Force flight. The crews from the the 41st and 38th Rescue Squadrons included Capts. Bryan Creel and Rob Wrinkle (the aircraft commanders), Capt Joseph Galletti, 1st Lt. Gregory Rockwood, Tech Sgts. Michael Preston, Thomas Ringheimer and Paul Silver and Staff Sgts. Vincent J. Eckert, John Griffin, Edward Ha, Patrick Ledbetter, Matthew Leigh and Michael Rubio. Home base for the crews of the 41st and 38th Rescue Squadrons is Moody AFB, Ga.

CJ Systems Aviation Group senior vice president of air medical services, Ed Marasco, is the recipient of the 2005 Marriott-Carlson Award, presented by the Assn. of Air Medical Services for "individual overall contributions to medical transport." CJ Systems President and Chief Operating Officer Larry Pietropaulo said, "Ed's entire career has been spent within the emergency medical community. He has worked tirelessly to advance his training and education, as well as to advance the image of the entire air medical transport community." In 1991, Marasco played a pivotal role in the inaugural Air Medical Reimbursement Congress. In 1999, as chairman of a key AAMS task force, he represented the strategic and financial interests of the air medical industry. He also is a founding member of the Medical Transport Leadership Institute Board of Regents.

Specialist Aviation Services Group Managing Director Jeremy Awenat resigned of as of Feb. 1. Henk Schaeken, former CEO of MD Helicopters Inc., was named interim managing director pending the appointment of a permanent MD. Jim Webster has been promoted to deputy managing director and financial director.

Brian Voegele has resigned as senior vice president and CFO of Offshore Logistics , Inc. He had notified the company in November 2005 of his intent to resign to become CFO of another oilfield services company. Offshore Logistics' board of directors appointed President and CEO William E. Chiles as CFO until Voegele's successor is identified. Perry L. Elders will serve as senior financial advisor. Offshore Logistics also appointed Elizabeth D. Brumley as vice president and chief accounting officer. She had joined the company as controller late last year.

FlightSafety International has promoted Steve Gross to director of worldwide sales. He was regional marketing director for the northeastern U.S. Gross replaces Scott Fera, who was promoted to vice president, marketing early last year. FlightSafety also appointed Julie Goodridge as manager of its West Palm Beach, Fla. Learning Center. She succeeds Pat Knott, who is retiring.

The Airborne Law Enforcement Assn. has hired Stephen J. Ingley as executive director. Ingley previously served as executive director of the American Jail Assn.

Sky Connect has named Craig N. Moen as sales manager for the eastern United States and U.S. government customers. It has also named Jeff Taberner manager of West Coast Sales.

Turbomeca USA has appointed Marcus D. Woodle as director of quality. He succeeds Philippe Painchaut. Woodle has extensive experience in aerospace and automotive manufacturing management of quality systems, assurance, safety and training.

HAI has appointed John (Jack) Drake as director of safety and flight operations. Drake is a former naval helicopter pilot and served 26 years with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board as an accident analyst and manager of the board's Aviation Engineering Div.

EVENTS

Feb. 6-10--2006 Army Medical Evacuation Conference, Holiday Inn Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas. Contact: LeNore Wells, (334) 255-1166; E-mail: lenore.wells@se.amedd.army.mil; Website: www.us.army.mil/suite/page/86394.

Feb. 21-25--Conklin & de Decker Helicopter Maintenance Management Course, Wyndham Anatole Hotel, Dallas, Texas. Contact: David Wyndham, (508) 255-5975; E-mail: david@conklindd.com; Website: www.conklindd.com.

Feb. 21-26--Asian Aerospace 2006, Changi Exhibition Center, Singapore. Contact: 65-6789-8800; E-mail; ask@reedexpo.com.sg; Website: www.reedexpo.com.sg.

Feb. 26-28--HAI Heli-Expo 2006, Dallas Convention Center, Dallas, Texas. Wyndham Anatole Hotel. Contact: Marilyn McKinnis, the Helicopter Association International, Alexandria, Va., (703) 683-4646; fax (703) 683-4745; E-mail: marilyn.mckinnis@rotor.com; Website: www.rotor.com;

Feb. 28-March 1--FAA Aviation Forecast Conference, Washington, D.C. Convention Center, Washington, D.C. Contact: Linda Baranovics, FAA, (202) 267-7924; E-mail: Linda.baranovics@faa.gov; Website: apo.faa.gov/conference/welcome.htm.

March 1-3--Conklin & de Decker Advanced Helicopter Operators & Management Course, Wyndham Anatole Hotel, Dallas, Texas. Contact: David Wyndham, (508) 255-5975; E-mail: david@conklindd.com; Website: www.conklindd.com.

March 22-23--7th Russian Helicopter Society Forum, 2, Sokolnichesky Val, Moscow, 107113, Russia. Contact: Phone: 7-95-269-94-48 or 7-95-269-94-66; Fax: 7-95-264-55-71; E-mail: russian-helicopter-society@mtu-net.ru.

March 23-25--17th Annual Women in Aviation Conference, "Reaching New Heights in Success." Gaylord Opryland Hotel, Nashville, Tenn. Contact: Connie Lawrence, (937) 839-4647; E-mail: clawrence@wai.org; Website: www.wai.org

March 27-April 2--FIDAE: The International Air & Space Fair, Benitez Int'l Airport, Santiago, Chile. Contact: Alisha O'Hanlon, 56-2-530-5750; E-mail: alisha.ohanlon@international.gc.ca; Website: www.fidae.cl.

March 28-30--PAMA 35th Annual Symposium, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nev. Contact: PAMA, (703) 683-3171; E-mail: hq@pama.org; Website: www.pama.org.

April 4-10--32nd Annual Sun `n Fun Fly-In, Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL), Lakeland, Fla. Contact: Camille Branch, (863) 644-2431; E-mail: cbranch@sun-n-fun.org; Website: www.sun-n-fun.org.

April 9-12--AAAA Annual Convention, Gaylord Opryland Convention & Resort Center, Nashville, Tenn. Contact: (203) 268-2450; E-mail: aaaa@quad-a.org; Website: www.quad-a.org.

April 25-27--11th Annual MRO Conference, Phoenix Civic Plaza, Phoenix, Ariz. Contact: Beth Eddy, (800) 240-7645 or (561) 862-0005, Fax: (561) 862-0006; E-mail: beth_eddy@aviationnow.com; Website: www.aviationnow.com/conferences

May 3-5-- European Business Aviation conference & Exhibition (EBACE 2006). Palexpo Conference Center, Geneva, Switzerland. Produced by the European Business Aviation Assn and the National Business Aircraft Assn. Contact: Kathleen Blouin (NBAA) (202) 783-9364; E-mail: kblouin@nbaa.com; Website: www.ebace.aero.

May 9-11--AHS 62nd Annual Forum and Technology Display, Phoenix Civic Plaza, Phoenix, Ariz. Contact AHS: (703) 684-6777. E-mail: staff@vtol.org; Website: www.vtol.org.

July 18-23--Farnborough International Airshow, Farnborough, England. Contact: 44-20 7227 1043; E-mail: enquires@farnborough.com; Website: www.farnborough.com.

Oct. 17-19--NBAA 59th Annual Meeting and Convention, Orlando Orange Co. Convention Center, Orlando, Fla. Contact: NBAA (202) 783-9000; E-mail: info@nbaa.org. Website: www.nbaa.com.

CONTRACTS

McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Co. won an $18.8-million, sole-source, firm-fixed-price contract for the Longbow Crew Trainer No. 24 and initial spares package. About 85 percent of the work will be performed in St. Louis, and with the rest to be done in Mesa, Ariz. It is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2008.

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. received multiple contracts for its series of helicopters, including a $69.4-million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for "unique configuration" to the Black Hawk helicopters and a $14.4-million, firm-fixed-price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity option contract for the repair and overall for H-60 tail rotor blades.

Jahn Corp. of Lexington Park, Md. received a $7.1-million modification to a previous contract for advisory and assistance services to the V-22 program.

General Electric Co. of Lynn, Mass. has won a delivery order of $160 million as part of a $2.43-billion, firm-fixed-price contract for T700 engine spare parts. The T700 engine powers military helicopters, including the UH-60 and NH90. The company also has received a $178-million, U.S. Army contract for 2006 to continue overhaul support of T700 engines at the Corpus Christi Army Depot and convert engines to the T700-GE-701D configuration in support of the Army's current fleet transformation. The award follows a five-year, $668-million CCAD contract that was initiated in 2000.

DynCorp International of Fort Worth, Texas was awarded a $9.1-million delivery order as part of a $406-million contract for refurbishment of UH-1Hs.

Rolls-Royce has won a $6.5-million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract to exercise an option for "Power-By-The Hour" maintenance support for the U.S. Marine Corps/U.S. Air Force/U.S. Navy V-22 AE1107C gas-turbine engine..

Breeze-Eastern has won a $9.9-million, firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for repair, overhaul, and test and evaluation of various cargo hooks, winches, and other components used in support of H-3 and H-53 aircraft.

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